In the sixth year of its implementation,the ambitious Rs 15,000-crore Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana,a special state government project meant to uplift the socio-economic status of tribals in Gujarat,does not seem to be having its desired effect. Figures from the 2011 Census show that a majority of
18 lakh scheduled tribes (ST) households are deprived of basic facilities like drinking water,electricity and drainage.
Dubbed as Chief Minister Narendra Modis Ten Point Programme for tribal areas,the project announced in 2007 that targeted to provide electricity to all tribal hamlets within a period of five years. The claims seem to have fallen flat with the Census figures revealing an alarming number of tribals living in complete darkness in the state.
Of the 18 lakh tribal households covered by the Census in Gujarat,over 4 lakh do not use electricity as primary source to illuminate their homes. Of these,3.2 lakh homes depend on kerosene lamps to light their houses,while 26,700 tribal houses live in complete darkness.
Compared to Gujarat,the states like Chattishgarh (7,700),Jharkhand (1,100),Bihar (564),Nagaland (4,000),Manipur (1,700),Mizoram (611),Tripura (1,000) and Meghalaya (3,700) that have significant tribal population have fewer number of tribal households that have no source of light.
The yojana,announced in 2007,had several time-bound targets for 43 predominantly tribal talukas.
In 2011,the state government extended the yojana for five more years and claimed that it has helped 3.4 lakh tribal families to rise above the Below Poverty Level (BPL). However,Census data reveals that a lot of ground remains to be covered.
Gujarat had promised housing for all tribal families under the project. However,a glance at the Census reveals that tribal families,having 6-8 members per household,is already leading a cramped existence. There are 7.6 lakh tribal families across Gujarat who live in one-room house,while 10 lakh households have one additional room.
Out of the 18 lakh homes covered by the Census,over 7.3 lakh do not have any of the assets like radio,television,computers,telephones,bicycle or a moped,while over 60 per cent of the households do not avail banking services.
The ambitious state government’s project had also promised broadband connectivity to all the tribal talukas within a period of five years. However,the census figures show that only 67,000 households in Gujarat have computers or laptops and only 10,800 of them have Internet connections.
Tribal households in Maharashtra (40,800),Karnataka (15,000),Andhra Pradesh (13,700),Uttar Pradesh (13,000) and Tamil Nadu (12,400) have greater access to the Internet.